Hartford Public Library and ERfC Launch CRISKids Book Club

Windsor, Conn. – In collaboration with CRIS Radio, Hartford Public Library (HPL) and Educational Resources for Children (ERfC) are introducing the CRISKids Book Club to help and encourage young children to read.

The book club provides a unique learning tool that combines human-narrated audio books with the printed versions of the books.

CRIS Radio (Connecticut Radio Information System), a 42-year-old Windsor-based nonprofit radio station that broadcasts news and information published in newspapers and magazines, produces a family of audio services for people who are blind or struggle to read due to various print challenges.

The CRISKids Book Club is being funded by a grant award from The Fund for Greater Hartford.

Participating children at Hartford Public Library will be invited to check-out a CRISKids Book Bag with a library card. The book bag will include five books that correspond to the audio version of the books that are preloaded onto an MP3 player. The book bag also will include earbuds, an incentive, and sticker sheet to help the students track the number of books they read. When the students finish reading the books, they are invited to return the book bag and check-out another one with a new set of five books.

“The Hartford Public Library Youth Services Department is thrilled to embark on this new partnership with CRISKids,” said Denise Martens, system-wide manager of Hartford Public Library’s Youth & Family Services. “We look forward to serving the Hartford community with more opportunities to enhance positive reading outcomes through audio books.”

Students attending Educational Resources for Children’s before school, school day remote learning, afterschool, and summer programs, in partnership with Enfield Public Schools, will also have an opportunity to participate in the CRISKids Book Club.

“The CRISKids Book Club continues to give Enfield kids exciting opportunities to expand and improve their reading skills,” said Claire Hall, ERfC’s executive director. “We use the program to encourage all students to read more for fun. Our students look forward to getting their new book bags every week.”

ERfC, a nonprofit, previously collaborated with CRIS Radio on a 14-month independent evaluation of CRISKids to determine the impact of students listening to an audio book while following along in the print version. The evaluation demonstrated that CRISKids is an effective, low-cost educational tool that helps kids who struggle to read.

Specifically, the majority of students with reading challenges who listened to CRISKids’ recordings for more than 100 minutes during the school year improved more than expected compared with students who did not listen to CRISKids. The evaluation also found that students who listened to CRISKids for 30 minutes or more during the summer either maintained or exceeded the gains made during the school year, an important finding that offsets the typical “summer slide” experienced by many students when out of school during the summer.

Numerous studies have determined that improved literacy impacts a child life-long in terms of employment, health care choices, academic opportunities, and food insecurity.

The evaluation quantified a striking association between access to CRISKids’ audio recordings and student reading improvement. The findings highlight the following:

  • Among the lowest-level readers in Grades 1-3, 75% of the students who listened to CRISKids for more than 100 minutes during the school year improved more than expected as compared with 7% who did not access CRISKids.
  • For all abilities, 40% of students with more than 100 minutes of access to CRISKids also improved more than expected as compared with 10%; and
  • More than 80% of rising Grade 1-3 students accessing CRISKids for more than 30 minutes during a seven-week summer camp period either maintained or improved what they learned during the school

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